Weber is often regarded as the most important classical sociological theorist since he investigated many areas and since his approach and methods guide much later sociological analysis. Like Marx, Weber had a wide ranging set of interests: politics, history, language, religion, law, economics, and administration, in addition to sociology. His historical and economic analysis does not provide as elaborate or as systematic a model of capitalism and capitalist development as does that of Marx. But the scope of his analysis ranges more widely than that of Marx; is examines broad historical changes, the origins of capitalism, the development of capitalism, political issues, the nature of a future society, and concepts and approaches that Marx downplayed – religion, ideas, values, meaning, and social action.
Sociology seeks to formulate type concepts and generalized uniformities of empirical processes. This distinguishes it from history, which is oriented to the causal analysis and explanation of the individual actions, structures, and personalities possessing cultural significance. ... [The ideal procedure is to make] the sure imputation of individual concrete events occurring in historical reality to given causes through the study of precise empirical data which have been selected from specific points of view." (Ritzer, 3rd edition, pp. 112-114)
A principal founder of modern sociology, Max Weber Jr
Weber's analysis helps bridge the gap between the large structures of society and individual social action and interaction. Weber argued that sociologists can develop an understanding of actions of individuals and groups, and thereby of historical processes. Weber described this as or understanding, whereby the sociologist becomes empathetic with the individual, developing an understanding of the meaning that individuals attach to various courses of action. Understanding and meaning are key elements of Weber's approach – these are not just intuition or sympathy with the individual, but the product of "systematic and rigorous research" (Ritzer, p. 116). This approach is
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interactionism or Social Action theory and symbolic-interactionism
sociology of knowledge (or: social constructionism)
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Weber defines authority as legitimate forms of domination, that is, forms of domination which followers or subordinates consider to be legitimate. Legitimate does not necessarily imply any sense of rationality, right, or natural justice. Rather, domination is legitimate when the subordinate accept, obey, and consider domination to be desirable, or at least bearable and not worth challenging. It is not so much the actions of the dominant that create this, but rather the willingness of those who subordinate to believe in the legitimacy of the claims of the dominant.